It was 49 years ago today that I chose to step into this life. I agreed to be a part of a strange and glorious culture. One that celebrates odd things like anniversaries and birthdays and days of growth and moving on. I sat in my tax guys office yesterday morning for an hour talking about things that are real. Things that he had no idea were a part of his existence. He asked me what had I learned or what would I  be taking away from living in Panama.

As I look back on my life here in Central America, I will not hold my tongue. I told him there are a few words to describe what I have seen here and they are Oppression, Fear and Power. He heard oppression and I heard a heavy sigh escape from his lips. He says to me I think I know what you mean. He said, my wife wanted to go the beach and I didn’t want to go. He says, I wanted to watch a baseball game and I knew she wouldn’t go with out me. So I restricted and oppressed her.

I said wow, you have been married 39 years and that woman is the one who loves you the most in the world and you would deny her quality time with you. If it were me, I would have said fuck you, I’m going without you. Here in this country it doesn’t happen that way. Women aren’t shown the freedom that they have within to be who they want to be without a man. They are shown no value. They have no existence without a man so how could they do for themselves?

I am no Rosa Parks, or Joan of Arc. I am loud in my living and have more power than most can handle and that scares people. Honesty scares people. If  I catch you in a lie I am going to call you on it. Do I allow people to push me around ? Well no, not anymore. I have been pushed and pulled and sliced open. I’ve been mentally and emotionally dissected to the point of questioning who I am. That will no longer be a part of my life.

Oppression is an uncomfortable word. When I say the word I get a vision of being knocked to the ground and someone has a boot pressed on my throat. For me, oppression is being unable to say what comes to mind. This is completely opposite of who I am but how I have to be while I am going through the motions of leaving this place. Its feels like I am being strangled when I am forced to restrain myself.

I am worthy of more than what is being presented to me in this place that I live and while I know I am leaving, my heart goes out to the women who remain here. The women that are looked upon as nothing more than breeding machines. I see it every day and I want to shout out to the world you are more. You can be more you can say more, you can do more. You have a creative brain use it, show what you are capable of. Don’t accept oppression as part of your existence. You have nothing to fear and everything to gain.

I’ve been watching people around me as I am going through the process of leaving. They tell me you can’t do it this way or that way. Well, I say why not? Why cant I have expectations of someone doing the job that they are paid to do? Why is it me that has to slow myself to a snail’s pace so that they can feel the power underneath their pen? Why cant I point out the obvious to a room full of educated people? The answer given to me time and time again is…this is Panama.

After 49 years of living this life there is so much to share. It feels like I have a light to share with you, but there are those around you my friend that say, don’t listen to her she is bat shit crazy. Well maybe I am bat shit crazy but if I had stayed quiet and followed in the path of yet another man I would never have seen and done the things I have. Its made me stronger, wiser and more resistant to the massive weight of oppression that is handed to women in this world.

No I am not Rosa, or Gloria or Maya, I am me. I am as valuable as they are and I am here to say it. I show restraint now but remember that the pen is mighty damn powerful and I have a long memory. I am here to give back and help those who are willing. If I make it to year 50 there will be a celebration. I hope you are around to read my words on how I got through it all.